I was asked to design and make an unusual and interesting necklace to be worn at the Canadian Shell Collectors convention - apparently the wives of members get very competitive with their spectacular jewellery displays each year at the annual convention so - Phew!!! - No pressure at all! I can imagine it would be a really glamorous and grown-up version of an under-the-sea party (lol)..
So here is my attempt to meet the brief. I used some beautifully smooth Cowrie shells which my boyfriend brought back from Mali, West Africa and some spiky mother of pearl pieces which were reclaimed from a broken necklace which belonged to my mother, And the rest are shells that I'd found in the Baie de la Mont st Michel in Normandy-France.
It's this most amazing bay which stretches about 10km across and when the tide goes out, it looks like one huge expansive dessert. And when the tide comes in, it's in one big tidal wave which moves at the speed of galloping horses! It's spectacular to watch but only from a distance - up on a cliff-top or somewhere. The local people keep a close timetable of the tides because if you're out walking on the bay when the tide comes in, it's so easy to get cut off and washed away!!! It's a very dangerous, sinister and magical place!! You can often see the silhouette of the Mont st Michel through the fog and people have waded out to it on pilgrimages and to hide for hundreds of years. so when you're there you can almost imagine all the ghosts that are roaming around that great wide expanse of sand and water. It's a place where you can feel more alone than anywhere else - I like to go there and sing because I can be absolutely sure no one else can here me (except abstractly on the wind maybe-lol).
The shells I found are not rare or of any special species but they are very different to shells I have picked up on ordinary beaches. I think this has a lot to do with the formation of the bay and the silts and minerals which get brought in on the tide and trapped in the basin. So you can often find completely black cockle shells or really dramatic stripes and markings which is fantastic for making jewellery!